What is your environment and how is it related to ecology?
Think about the above question. This is the same question that began this book. Do you think you're able to answer this question better now than when you started studying ecology and the environment?
“The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.”
The Earth Speaks
You have become a student ecologist! You are able to look at your surroundings and ask questions about how things in the environment work. By doing this, you can begin to figure out how those things function the way they do.
Now when you hear about environmental issues on the news or read about them in your local paper, you can consider the many different points of view. You can ask questions such as these:
Find a newspaper article that is related to the topics you've studied in this ecology unit. Write a letter to the author of the article explaining what you think he or she should have included about ecology in the article to make it more thorough. What questions are left unanswered that could be researched?
“Does this make sense? Is it likely that it is happening the way that the person says it does? How does it affect other things in the environment? How does it affect the people that are mentioned? Does it affect other people who are not mentioned? Does it affect me?” And most importantly you can ask, “Is there anything that I, my friends, or my family can do about it?”
Last of all, you've observed that your everyday decisions and actions affect many different things in your environment-and that your environment affects you. Congratulations on completing this unit!
Activity 13-1: Map Your Environment, Revisited
Now is a good time to reinvestigate how you fit into the environment. What is your relationship with the biotic and abiotic parts of your surroundings? You've learned about how biotic and abiotic factors interact with each other and how you interact with them. So now you can use the new information you've accumulated to evaluate your place in your environment again. You are a part of your environment just as much as any other animal. You affect biotic and abiotic factors, just as they affect you. In this activity you draw a map to analyze again how you are connected to various parts of your environment.
- 1 Piece of butcher paper or other large piece of paper
- Colored marking pens, pencils, or crayons
- Activity Report
Step 1 Draw a self-portrait in the middle of the piece of large paper.
Step 2 Think about all the biotic and abiotic factors you can that are in your environment. List the factors on your Activity Report. Around your picture write the names of the six most important biotic factors in your environment and draw them. Then do the same for the six most important abiotic factors.
Step 3 Draw lines to show the connections between you and the different factors in your environment. Use one color to represent connections to biotic factors and a different color to represent connections to abiotic factors. Label each line with a word that describes how you interact with that factor. (Hint: Look at Figure 1.1, which shows the factors that are important to a dog.)
Step 4 Use another color to draw lines between factors that are connected with each other.
Step 5 Consider these questions and write responses to them on your Activity Report:
- Which of these factors is the most important to you?
- Which factors, if any, could you live without?
Step 6 Compare your finished map with those of your classmates. Discuss these questions and write responses to them on your Activity Report:
- What factors in your environment do you have in common?
- How are your environmental factors similar? How are they different?
Step 7 Compare your finished map with the map you created at the beginning of this unit. Describe some ways this unit has changed how you view your environment and your place in it.
- What is your environment and how do you affect it?
- What are ecologists and what do they do? Do you think that you can devise and answer questions about your environment now that you are a student ecologist?
- How has studying this unit changed your views of how you fit into the workings of the world?